Preparing the project defence

During the first year, all PhD students should produce a proposal for a thesis that will be defended before a committee. This examination aims to evaluate the student's ability to undertake original research at a PhD level. The thesis proposal is the first stage in the PhD program, and one of the most important ones, as it structures the research for the upcoming years.

PhD students have only two opportunities to submit and defend their thesis projects: the first one in June (compulsory for first year students enrolled in a full-time basis), and the second one in September (for those who fail the 'June paper').  

Part-time students can submit the thesis project during the first two years (see here the Structure of the PhD Programme), but they are also expected to present by June. If they do not pass the 'June paper', they will have a second opportunity in September. 

The PhD thesis proposal is a short monograph containing a clearly-defined scientific goal and a plan for achieving it. Everything else in the proposal is to show the student's competence and to support the plausibility of the goal and the plan. There is no set template or minimum length. We highly advise students to consult their supervisor, though below we provide you with some guidelines.

The project should be around 8.000 words in length (including footnotes and bibliography).


General Guidelines for Research Projects

 The thesis project should comprise the following sections:

  1. Introduction (explanation of the topic chosen; main objectives; relevance of the topic selected and an explication of the main contributions to knowledge the thesis could make).
  2. Research Questions.
  3. State of the art (bibliographical revision on the subject).
  4. Methodology
  5. Research plan (include an outline establishing the different sections of the thesis o relation between possible articles).
  6. Calendar.
  7. Bibliography.

The following issues must be considered when preparing the project defence (no results will be required): 1) objectives; 2) research questions; 3) hypotheses; and 4) methodology.

In the case of some theses in political theory - depending on consulting the supervisor - instead of hypotheses, the candidate should present the theoretical framework and the main argument(s) of her project. The following issues must be considered when preparing the project defence: 1) objectives; 2) research questions;  3) hypotheses (or, in the case of some theses in political theory: theoretical framework and main arguments); and 4) methodology.


As a Phd student, the work you produce in the first stage of your programme (thesis project) and in the last stage (thesis submission) will be checked through the Turnitin similarity report. This is to check for any issues that may affect progression or any inadvertent plagiarism or self-plagiarism that may be addressed.

How to avoid plagiarism and self-plagiarism

We consider plagiarism to be the use of someone else's words without referencing the source or including the information in quotation marks or a block quote; using someone else's ideas without referencing the source or copying papers written by other students. Self-plagiarism is also a real problem, in the sense of recycling your previous work as if it were totally original, in a context where a certain level of originality is essential. The key to avoiding this risk is the same as for avoiding plagiarism of any kind. Be very careful to cite your own previous work when quoting or building on it. 



The deadline for delivering the projects and supervisors’ reports is two weeks before the defence day.  Thesis supervisors have to send the report to the administrative staff in charge of the doctorate program ([email protected]).

June paper:

  • May, 18: date of submission of manuscripts (uploaded in the 'aula global').
  • 1st of June:  Public defence of thesis projects.

December paper: to be announced in due course. 

Please note that dates are subject to change due to the availability of the members of the evaluation committee (these are only approximate dates). You will receive a confirmation e-mail with the final dates for the presentations.


Preparing for the presentation

  • The oral defence can be done in any of the three languages of the UPF: English, Catalan or Spanish.

  • The presentation is organized following the alphabetic order of the student’s family name.

  • Each PhD has fifteen minutes to defend his/her project in a public session.

  • Power-point presentations are strongly recommended.

  • After the presentation the members of the committee make comments, ask questions or call for clarifications that the student has to answer in a satisfactory way. 


Doctoral Thesis Project Committee functions

Each student's PhD Project Defence will be assessed by a Doctoral Thesis Project Committee (DTPC). The functions of the DTPC are: (1) assess the viability of the project; (2) identify possible problems, and (3) provide alternative solutions to these problems.

The DTPC draws up a Committee report which includes an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the project as well as specific recommendations for improving its implementation. Recommendations by the DTPC must be responsible, realistic, feasible and constructive. The DTPC cannot limit itself to highlighting weaknesses or giving criticism. It must propose viable solutions or approaches to solve potential problems. If the DTPC finds serious problems such as conflicts between a student and supervisor or if it disagrees with the student or the supervisor, the DTPC will report such conflicts and seek advice from the Committee of the Doctoral Programme.


Regulations of the Doctoral Thesis Project Committee

The PhD student will present his/her future PhD research project to the committee. The DTPC will consist of 3 researchers:

  • All three members must have a PhD degree and accredited research experience.

  • At least one of the 3 members of the committee will have an academic appointment with the UPF, such as a senior faculty member including ICREA, a research fellow (Ramón y Cajal, Marie Curie, etc.), a postdoc or an adjunct professor.


Evaluation Committee

The members of the committee are the following:

  • Chair: Jacint Jordana
  • Spokesperson 1: Marc Sanjaume
  • Spokesperson 2: M. José González
  • Substitute (1): Aïda Solé Auró
  • Substitute (2): Mariano Torcal

Defences are open to the public, so anyone in the Department and beyond is welcome to attend.